Steadfast Love


Making Sense of God's Anger

Key Bible Verse: “Oh, how can I give you up, Israel? How can I let you go? … My heart is torn within me, and my compassion overflows.” (Hosea 11:8)

Dig Deeper: Hosea 11

The Exodus pattern seems to generally fit the entire Old Testament: Yahweh delivers [his people]. They complain. He is patient. They promise to obey. The first opportunity they get, they disobey. Yahweh eventually becomes angry and punishes them.

The description of Yahweh as “slow to anger” [is] first revealed after the golden calf incident (Ex. 34:6). In the rest of the verse, Yahweh is also said to be “merciful,” “gracious,” and “abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”

While all these descriptors sound positive, one in particular stands out: “steadfast love,” or hesed in the Hebrew. Other translations render hesed as “lovingkindness,” “kindness,” “love,” or “mercy.” Hesed is the best kind of love one could imagine. It is the love of a devoted parent to a child from infancy to adulthood and beyond. It is the love of a committed spouse to her or his partner over decades of marriage. It is not a word used lightly for a relationship.

So Yahweh gets angry slowly and loves abundantly and enduringly, but you might be wondering about the Canaanites or the Egyptians. Did Yahweh abundantly love them? [continued 6/23]

– David T. Lamb in God Behaving Badly

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